Tessa Spanton SWA Artist, tutor, writer


Welcome to my blog.
This is where I write about some of the things that inspire my work,
news of exhibitions and works in progress

Sunday, 15 August 2010

'Sargent and the Sea' Paintings by John Singer Sargent

The no 38 bus stopped outside Laduree as usual, this time I tasted a blackcurrant and violet macaron. It was good though I couldn't really taste the violet. I was on my way to Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy, a few doors along on Piccadilly in London.

There were oils, watercolours and drawings of coastal subjects and seascapes many of them done during his summer travels.
The exhibition is in The Sackler wing of galleries on the top floor.

I have chosen some highlights, the first being a group of 3 evocative seascapes. One of these gave me the feeling I was on the sea in a boat.

En Route pour la Pêche (Setting out to fish) 1878 is a large oil painting showing a group of fisherwomen and children on the beach at Cancale in Brittany. I was drawn to this painting partly because I have been to Cancale and eaten seafood at one of the little harbourside restaurants. I spent a long time looking at it. I like the way the figures are grouped, the warm colouring and the beautiful reflections in the wet sand. Next to it was a smaller version with looser brushstrokes which had been done first. After looking at other paintings in the room I arrived at the opposite side where, like old friends, there were drawings and oil studies of some of the figures from 'Setting out to fish'. It was interesting to see how his thinking evolved as he worked on the composition. There were about 80 paintings altogether and this group interested me most.

At the end of the exhibition there was a group of watercolours of Venice. Bold, lively and painterly, they seemed to me to have been done for the sheer enjoyment of painting, several of them unsigned. One of them had been given as a wedding present to a friend and bore a lovely inscription written on the painting.
The photos show some fun sculptures in the courtyard ouside the RA.

Cakes from the window display at Laduree